Apple jumps the line to become U.K.’s no. 2 online retail site

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Apple was the second-most popular online retailer in the U.K. during the third quarter, according to data released Monday by web stats measurement firm Experian Hitwise and IMRG. Apple rose to second place from eighth the previous quarter, thanks to a five-fold increase in traffic between August and October.

Apple was second only to Amazon.co.uk, and beat out Argos, which has been at the top of the list along with Amazon’s U.K site since Hitwise began its rankings. In October 2011, the Apple site accounted for 1 in every 25o visits made by U.K. browsers, according to the information gathered by Experian Hitwise.

Part of the reason for the huge volume increase in traffic, which spiked in October, is the death of former Apple CEO and co-founder Steve Jobs. Jobs passed away Oct. 5, just a day after Apple announced the iPhone 4S. The combination of the two led to Apple reaching its highest-ever levels of Internet traffic, with 14 million visits coming to the site in October alone.

Hitwise also cited the iPad as another cause of high traffic for Apple, since tablet popularity overall is a growing driver of web traffic. Amazon experienced a lift thanks to its Kindle Fire, for instance, and in addition to its U.K site topping the list, Amazon’s U.S. shopping portal even made the U.K. rankings, coming in ninth.

Apple’s surge in retail web rankings may not last, but a six-place jump is nothing to scoff at, even if it is a temporary boost dictated by extremely unusual circumstances. If Apple dips back down next quarter, it probably won’t fall all the way back, since some of those new visitors will probably stick around to keep tabs on what’s coming next, specifically to look for clues about iPad 3, which is starting to become a popular target for the rumor mill.

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